#70SportWays (60): Dick Fosbury, how to revolution a sport
Richard Douglas Fosbury is an American retired high jumper, who is considered one of the most influential and inspirational athletes in the history of track and field. Besides winning a gold medal at the 1968 Olympics, he revolutionized the high jump event, with a unique “back-first” technique, now known as the Fosbury Flop, adopted by almost all high jumpers today.
Fosbury had difficulty competing using the dominant high jumping techniques of the period. In his sophomore year, he failed to complete jumps of 5 feet (1.5 m), the qualifying height for many high school track meets. Fosbury found it difficult to coordinate all the motions involved in the usual method, and began to experiment with other ways of doing the high jump.
After years of practices, he came out with a new method, that was to sprint diagonally towards the bar, then curve and leap backwards over the bar, which gave him a much lower center of mass in flight (it was actually below his body) than traditional techniques. At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Fosbury took the gold medal and set a new Olympic record at 2.24. displaying the potential of the new technique. Despite the initial sceptical reactions from the high jumping community, the “Fosbury Flop” quickly gained acceptance and today is the style used by all high jump athletes.